In today’s unique environment, it’s essential to know both the technology and the best ways to communicate online. There are many apps available for face to face communications. Zoom, Canvas, Skype, facetime, Google Duo, Slack, Adobe Connect, and GoToMeeting, to name a few. Using these apps puts you in a face to face environment, but they don’t automatically create clear and understandable communications. These apps can create obstacles to the way we communicate our ideas. The first step is knowing how these apps function in creating a connection. The second step is to understand how to communicate in this online environment.
Where do you look? Do you look at the person’s face on your screen or at your device’s camera? It might seem obvious but where you look will determine how you are perceived by the viewer. Looking at the person’s face on your screen will transmit to the viewer that you are not looking directly at them. To the viewer it will appear that you are looking down and not at them. In-person, when we talk to someone, we usually look at their eyes to communicate we are listening. It’s the same thing online. When you speak or listen online, you should look directly into your device’s camera. Looking into the camera will communicate to the viewer that you are looking directly at them. As human beings, we read all the messages that are being delivered to us. That includes the tone of your voice, your facial expressions, and body language. In the online environment, there is less body language visible, and therefore your shoulders and facial expressions become more important in communicating a message.
When you speak, the viewer will be looking at your eyes; therefore, it is vital to be present—being present means to concentrate on what you are saying when you say it. Many people tend to listen to themselves or to think ahead when they talk. Listening to yourself or thinking forward will create a distraction and show a ‘Tell’ the viewer. A ‘Tell’ is when we communicate to the viewer that we have disconnected from them. It can be body language movements like blinking your eyes, looking away from the camera, or verbal ‘Tells” like saying um too many times. To avoid ‘Tells,’ remain present and concentrate on what you are saying when you say it. Staying present will put your body language in sync with what you are saying and create a coherent message.
Another consideration is to check the background of your camera shot when communicating face to face online. Be sure there are no distractions or clutter that can be seen by the viewer. Test the camera’s view before going online. You don’t want secondary messages communicated online.
Consider these tips when you are communicating online and make your conversations connect with your viewers. For more tips on presenting and communicating either in person or online, check out my new book Present! Connect! On Amazon or Apple Books.